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Vegan Education- A UK Woman Trying To Make Primary Schools Vegan Inclusive

A former primary school teacher herself, Laura is in the process of writing a guidebook for teacher called Primary Veducation. The book will help guide teachers to become more vegan inclusive in the classroom. Laura’s goal is to have vegan inclusion throughout the education system to benefit every vegan child who may feel left out or misunderstood at school.

Laura shares her story with us on how it all got started.

Laura’s Story In Her Own Words…

Upon making the decision to formally educate your child, their first day at school can be a very exciting time for the whole family. It’s a new and important stage in your child’s life and waving goodbye as they toddle in, unaided by you, is a moment usually filled with pride and possibly a tear or two.

I say, ‘usually’ as the experience that I had differed considerably from the norm.

In the UK, children in Early Years education are entitled to a daily, free school meal and with the school having been provided with the information that my daughter was vegan before she started I assumed, naively, that she would be catered for.

How wrong I was! After conferring with the kitchen staff that morning, I was told that my daughter was not going to be catered for.

And that the reasoning for this was that our veganism was a ‘lifestyle choice.’

I was further told that if she had had an allergy or religious request, these would have been taken into consideration without question; which felt like a further kick in the teeth to me.

My baby, a compassionate girl with ethics beyond her years, was being punished for possessing these qualities.

I cried the entire way around the supermarket buying her a lunch box and food to fill it with.

Vegan inclusion in our mainstream schools is a real issue, I felt so excluded and alienated for the first time since becoming vegan and this was provided by an institution that claimed to be fully inclusive; the irony was not lost on me.

Having worked in education for most of my adult life I knew that this was a fight worth taking to the powers that be.

I did and I won.

My daughter now enjoys vegan meals at lunchtimes, and the borough where we live is the first in the UK to provide a fully vegan menu as an automatic option if requested. No other vegan parent where we live will have to endure the upset that I did, a true vegan victory!

The best part is now being able to help other parents, up and down the country, who have been in a similar situation but don’t know what to do. We have rights and as a community we must find the confidence to exercise them. We can and we must urge to make more schools vegan inclusive.

Off the back of the media interest surrounding our victory, I attended Parliament to discuss plant-based options on all public sector menus and assisted Pro-Veg in their “School Plates” campaign.

With 7% of the British population identifying as vegan and no sign of stopping, it is vital that schools and teachers understand what veganism is and start to make changes not only to their menus, but also to their delivery of the curriculum too.

The more I looked, the more obvious it became that there was nothing presently in place where veganism and education met, neither by policy nor lesson planning, so

I decided to become the UK’s first Vegan School Consultant, ‘Primary Veducation.’

I meet with teachers and in a gentle and informative way, I show them the world through the vegan child’s eyes, as well as assisting with curriculum planning tweaks and introducing vegan- friendly content and language choices.

The most rewarding part of my new profession is knowing that the vegan children whose teachers I work with will be valued and that their veganism will be celebrated in class.

Our goal should be to make more schools vegan inclusive.

As the nationwide, and probably worldwide, concept of a vegan inclusive education currently stands, we really are in the preliminary stage. As veganism continues to grow so shall this concept and once it is fully integrated into our schools, done so by determined parents requesting it, its ripples will be everlasting, after all…  the children are our vegan future!

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I’m Going to Oxford!

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I have the great honour of attending the Sixth Annual Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School on Humane Education; Increasing sensitivity to animals and humans.

21-24 July 2019, at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford

Oxford

Here are some of the topics that will be covered. I think that I am going to enjoy this!

  • Can education make people more humane?
  • Can empathy be taught?
  • Are humans “naturally” violent?
  • What is the role of humane societies in combatting cruelty?
  • How important is humane education to both animal protection and human protection?
  • How effective is the existing provision of humane education in schools, colleges, and universities worldwide?
  • Should public money fund humane education?
  • What is the rationale behind humane education?
  • Where are the leading centres of humane education, and who are the leading humane educators?
  • Does humane education expose the link between animal abuse and human violence?
  • Should animal ethics be part of humane education?

Westminster!

In October the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vegetarianism and Veganism met to discuss whether or not Public Sector establishments have a duty to provide Plant Based options as standard.

I attended and met some great people who are all striving for Plant Based options in all areas of society. Representatives from Portugal (who have already achieved this), The Vegan Society, Pro-Veg and HM Prisons spoke with MP’s about the future of public sector menus.

It’s all moving in the right direction! I was glad to collaborate with Pro-Veg afterwards and have been speaking to The Vegan Society about Primary Veducation too. We are becoming a force that can’t be reckoned with! What a time to be alive!

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More School Invites Please

If you’d like me to send a letter just like this to your school, please email me.

hello@primaryveducation.com

 

Dear School,

My name is Laura Chepner and I am offering you a free resource! Yes, Free!

I work in your area and have recently set up my own consultancy business. As I build up my confidence and client base I am not charging for my first visit, so if what you read is relevant please do get in touch.

I am ‘Primary Veducation’ a Teaching and Learning Consultant for Vegan Inclusive Primary Schools. My aim is not to turn you or your staff Vegan, but to educate in a friendly and informative way on the principles of Veganism and what you can do to be more inclusive as a school based on those facts.

If you have a Vegan child, children or staff member at your school they would benefit greatly from their teachers, peers or fellow staff understanding and valuing their perspectives.

WHAT CAN I OFFER?

STAFF MEETINGS

During your half an hour presentation with time for Q&A afterwards I will explain the main reasons why a family or child may have decided to choose the Vegan lifestyle* and expel some myths about it too.  This will enable all present to see the world through the Vegan child’s eyes and be able to plan accordingly for this in the future. I will then provide easy lesson ideas, simple tweaks to practice, vocabulary recommendations and other useful and manageable hints and tips to enable your classroom to be as Vegan inclusive as possible.

*There will be no gory photos or videos.

INDIVIDUAL TEACHER/TA TRAINING

It may be that there is only one Vegan child in your school and that it would benefit that individual if their Teacher or Key Worker became the ‘Head Vegan Inclusive Staff Member’. I am sure that you could think of a fancier name. They could then be responsible for passing information on as the child progresses through the school.

During the allotted time I can support Teachers and Teaching assistants in writing* their LTPs, MTPs or STPs to ensure that the Vegan perspective has been incorporated.

*I was SENCo in my last full time job as a Teacher and am currently working part time on Supply. Therefore, I still have my finger on the pulse with the current curriculum and can be flexible with dates for visiting your school.

PEER CHATS

One thing that I have learnt over the years is that Vegan children wish that their peers understood what Veganism is and can feel isolated the longer this misunderstanding continues. I am happy to go into classrooms EYFS, KS1 and KS2 and talk about Veganism on their level. It can be part of a debate scenario for KS2 or ‘I Don’t Eat Dairy’ story based lessons differentiated for younger children. I would also be happy to perform whole school assemblies.

POLICY WRITING

After my visit a change in your policy might be necessary with the positive addition of, ‘Vegan inclusive’. I would be able to assist with this and provide you with a certificate to celebrate your fully inclusive school.

 

Thank you.

Vegan Campout UK 2018

What an amazing event!

I have been meaning to write about it for months now but I have been so very busy off the back of it!

For anyone who is Vegan I cannot recommend this heavenly place enough! Thousands of like-minded and happy people all learning from one another and sharing life experiences.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet and greet loads of Vegan parents and kids at campout and was able to gain perspective from each individual school that they attended. There is a LOT of work to be done.

The main topic of conversation was about food in the canteens and then secondly children wished that their peers and teachers had more of an understanding of Veganism. I agreed!

Thank you to all of the children who designed an, ‘I wish’ poster for my upcoming book. Here are some photos*. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

*Parental permission given for images